HBGary Federal, the security firm that went on a witch hunt to expose Anonymous, is still trying to recuperate after Anonymous hacked its servers and exposed its questionable tactics last month. While Aaron Barr, the CEO and mastermind behind the ordeal, stepped down a couple of weeks ago, Kayla, a 16 year old girl continues her normal life of school, part-time salon work, and online hacktivism for Anonymous. That’s right, a 16 year old. Kayla, who goes by the online moniker of ‘k, spoke to Forbes blogger Parmy Olson regarding her involvement with three others in the counterattack against HBGary Federal that mutilated its website, wiped its servers, and exposed over 50,000 emails for the world to see.
Kayla did not confirm her identity when asked to do so but her claims of hacking Xyrix (another hacker she is thought to be) in 2008 and support from other members of Anonymous seem to verify her claims. While there is no need to recount the HBGary story it is interesting to note how easily she gained access to its sensitive information. Kayla simply posed as Aaron Barr via email to one of HBGary’s IT admins, Nokia security specialist Jussi Jaakonaho (u mad Redmondpoo?), and after a brief email exchanged convinced him to change Barr’s SSH login credentials and leave a few select ports open. Within a few minutes she had access to all of the company’s servers and the rest is history. Kayla provided her email exchange with Jaakonaho here and here for those of you who want to read it.
When she moved in with her dad, a software engineer, after he won custody of her she was exposed to tons of programming and networking books at his place. By 14 she had learned C and x86 assembly language. Her dad saw her interest and began to encourage her, helping her fine tune her skills. Soon enough she began to learn scripting languages like MySQL, PHP, Perl, Python, and backtracing. Consequences were never the same. She claims that online hacking forums snubbed her because of her age and when she hacked an older male hacker he tracked her down online, found her number, called her house, and threatened to call the police. Freaked, she began to work her way towards wiping her identity off of the internet.
On December 13, 2008 Kayla made herself known to the world by exploiting an SQL injection bug in 4chan’s /b/ and soon she became a full member of Anonymous. While she didn’t reveal her location, she said that she does live in an English speaking country and her dad is aware of her hacktivism. She has dreams of being a teacher one day and limits her online time to just a few hours a night. When asked if she was concerned about the legal ramifications of her actions since she can be tried as an adult in her country, she said that she found all of this “hilarious,” proving once more that it is always, always, for the lulz.